A new alternative to the more common Advanced Directive is the Alzheimer’s Mental Health Advanced Care Directive, developed by Lisa Brodoff, a professor at Seattle University School of Law.
The common Advanced Directive usually takes effect at the end of life when a person is no longer able to express a preference as to what type of treatment is wanted including: mechanical intervention, artificially administered hydration, nutrition, or antibiotics. Advanced Directives do not take effect unless the patient has been determined by physicians to be terminally ill or in a permanent unconscious state.
Alzheimer’s Mental Health Advanced Care Directives take their cue from Mental Health Advanced Care Directives which have been around for a number of years. These directives take effect when an individual is unable to express their instructions and preferences regarding their mental health care. The client is able to give instructions and treatment preferences regarding their mental health care treatment in advance of the need for treatment. It encourages dialogue between family and physicians related to healthcare.
Alzheimer’s Mental Health Advanced Directives take the Mental Health Advanced Directive and focus the instructions and treatment preferences on quality of life issues for the Alzheimer’s or dementia client before the end of life. The client executes this document while they have capacity which is most likely when they have just been diagnosed with a dementia illness. They nominate someone (their agent) to carry out their instructions and preferences. The client expresses their desires in the Directive for how they want to be treated once they are determined to be incapacitated.
The Alzheimer’s Mental Health Advanced Care Directive allows you to make decisions in regards to:
- Personal history and care value statements that explain the client’s reasons for executing the directive, their core values, important people and events in their life so their agent knows who they are and what is important to them.
- When the directive becomes effective and how long it will last. Maybe they want to have it effective when a physician states they no longer have capacity. Maybe they want it effective in two years. They can state that the directive is only effective for a certain period of time or until they die.
- The ability to revoke the directive. Can they do it when they only have capacity or when they are incapacitated?
- Preferences and instructions about care and treatment including: who they want to provide care, what medications they are comfortable with, care managers, or housing preferences. They can include their preferences for visits by family and friends, driving, food, their environment, and other concerns.
Alzheimer’s Mental Health Advanced Care Directives provide a level of comfort and control about the end of life. More importantly, they also give guidance to family or caregivers so that they know they are providing the care their loved one has chosen. What a blessing.
Article Provided by:
Rehmke Law, PS